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Girls lacrosse: Jay poised for bigger things next year

Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 by John Murray

Girls lacrosse: Jay poised for bigger things next year

For the second year in a row, the John Jay girls lacrosse team will enter the season next spring having lost an All-American player to NCAA champ Northwestern University, along with several other key players.

And, once again, they might just be better.

Despite losing All-American attack Casey Bocklet, who this spring helped Northwestern win the NCAA Division I title, along with four defenders, two other attackers and their goalie, the Indians improved their record from 9-8 to 12-5.

Next year, the team will be without All-American midfielder Lauren Murray, also on her way to Northwestern, and six other seniors — but should return a potent squad with 14 returning players.

“This year was really a ‘prove yourself’ year, and we showed that we are a top Section 1 team,” said first-year coach Christina Smith. “The girls were challenged this year with a new coaching staff. My assistant coach (Brianna Shost), and I have gained experience and the girls are now comfortable with us. We’re ready to rise to the occasion, and be more successful than last year.

“As a first-year coaches, Brianna and I both learned so much,” she continued. “However, it is a lot easier to come into a program when you have talented, hardworking athletes.”

The 12-4 regular season saw the Indians notch wins over Yorktown (their first win over the Huskers since 1996) and eventual Section 1 Class B finalist Brewster — a game in which John Jay rallied from a 9-4 deficit to win 11-10.

But a bad twist of fate had the second-seeded Indians play Yorktown in the section quarterfinals, and the season ended far too early in a 12-10 defeat.

Leading the way all season was Murray, a four-year starter and three-time All-Section pick. In addition to earning All-American honors this year, she also achieved Academic All-American for the second year in a row, and earned the prestigious Con Edison Student-Athlete of the Week award for the week of May 19.

She was also one of the 12 girls from Section 1 awarded the Golden Dozen Scholar Athlete Award by the Lower Hudson Girls Lacrosse Coaches Association, recognizing scholar athletes who combine ability and teamwork on the lacrosse field with success in the classroom and outstanding contribution to the community.

Murray led the Indians in goals (63) and total points (85), and was third in assists (22). She was also an outstanding defender and handled most of the draw controls for the team.

She finished her career with 176 goals, putting her second on the all-time scoring list at John Jay.

“Lauren’s leadership and commitment definitely led us to a successful season,” coach Smith commented. “Her leadership this year has helped the returners so much already for next year.”

John Jay also graduates another Division 1 college player in midfielder Kelsey Davey, who will play for the University of Southern California next year. Davey, a four-year varsity player, earned honorable mention All-Section, despite sitting out the latter part of the season with an ACL injury.

Davey, a tremendous defender, finished with 24 goals and eight assists, and for her career scored 75 goals.

On the attack line, the Indians graduate Kiley Gorman, who had 12 goals and six assists and was an Academic All-American, along with Jenna Yasgur (two goals, two assists), while the defense graduates Renee Nouri, Emily Foster and starting goalie Clare Hogan.

But the Indians have a strong returning group of 14 varsity players, including two that earned All-Section honors (juniors Sarah Lang and Molly O’Reilly) or All-Section honorable mention recognition (juniors Liz Sheeran and Delaney Spencer).

“Losing all the seniors will be tough,” said coach Smith. “I am very excited to see juniors Molly O’Reilly, Delaney Spencer, Sarah Lang and Liz Sheeran step up into leadership roles. Very few juniors are awarded All-Section. Lang and O’Reilly were an exception. Not many teams will have two All-Section players returning.”

Lang, on the attack, will be a four-year varsity player next spring and, with 89 career goals, is on track to become the 12th John Jay girls lacrosse player to surpass 100 career goals next year.

This season, Lang was second on the team in goals (48), assists (28) and points (76), and was the team’s other mainstay in the all-important draw controls. In addition to being named to the All-Section team, Lang was an Academic All-American.

Perhaps the biggest impact from 2011 to 2012 was made by O’Reilly, who emerged as an offensive force this year with 36 goals and 29 assists, earning All-Section honors. She had tallied only four goals the previous season.

Earning honorable mention All-Section were midfielder Spencer and defender Sheeran — two more Academic All-Americans.

Spencer was a standout on both ends of the field with her defense and scoring ability (23 goals, 19 assists), while Sheeran anchored the defense and showed her speed when she went the length of the field to score two goals.

The Indians also got 16 goals from junior midfielder Hannah Wear.

A strong group of freshmen and sophomores made big contributions this season.

“This year we had nine underclassman. It shows that we have tons of potential and a whole year to improve,” Smith stated.

Defensively, the Indians will return junior goalie Natalie Reddy, and several of their top defenders in sophomores Mary McAvey (five goals) and Cara Stafford, and freshman Emma Gorman (four goals).

On the offensive end, sophomore attack Hanna Bocklet (16 goals, five assists), freshman attack Jilli Schell (11 goals, three assists) and freshman midfielder Amanda Flayhan (seven goals, two assists) were significant contributors.

Also returning are sophomore attack Athena Manzino (one goal) and sophomore defender Aileen Zumma.

“We have a ton of potential, specifically with our freshman, Amanda Flayhan, Jilli Schell and Emma Gorman. They gained a lot of experience this year,” commented coach Smith. “All three proved to be key players — through Gorman’s (defense) ability to shut down high scoring opponents, Flayhan’s (midfield) transition and drives to goal, and Shell’s (attack) aggressive play.

“Sophomores Mary McAvey, Cara Stafford and Hanna Bocklet will be an asset again next year — Bocklet with her high shooting percentages, (and) McAvey and Stafford with their great defensive play.”

Not surprisingly, coach Smith is already looking ahead to next season.

“Lacrosse is an all year sport. Luckily for us, a lot of the girls play on club teams year-round. The more the girls have their lacrosse stick in their hands, the more successful we will be,” she said.

“Next year we’re looking forward to taking on a tougher schedule. We want to play against good teams and continue the improve everyday mentality.”

Notes: Making the All-League team were Murray, Davey, Lang, Spencer, O’Reilly and Sheeran.

Kiley Gorman won the team’s Sportsmanship Award, and Flayhan was the team award for Most Improved Player. The team award for Most Valuable Player went to Murray.

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